Analysis: Adelaide’s form augurs well for finals


A champion team will beat a team of champions – or so the saying goes – and it’s that principle that may be carrying Adelaide United towards a rare piece of Hyundai A-League silverware.

Adelaide effectively put one hand on the Premiers Plate with a 2-0 win over Melbourne City on Friday night, with the Reds’ superior work ethic and fluid teamwork leading them to three points at AAMI Park.

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With the likes of Isaias, Stefan Mauk and Bruce Kamau squeezing the space in midfield, City’s champion forward trio of Bruno Fornaroli, Aaron Mooy and Harry Novillo were kept relatively quiet.

And when the visitors won possession, they moved the ball swiftly forward with sharp passing – Marcelo Carrusca at the centre of Adelaide’s best attacks – to keep City on the back foot.

While Carrusca and Isaias add genuine quality to Guillermo Amor’s team, this is an outfit that barely has a weak link.

Isaias celebrates scoring against City from a free-kick.

Even if Brisbane Roar defeat Melbourne Victory on Saturday night to claim the Premiers Plate, Adelaide’s balanced line-up will make them very hard to beat in the finals as they chase a maiden A-League championship.

Adelaide’s only piece of A-League silverware came in the inaugural season when they were crowned premiers.

Amor’s side moved to 49 points in Melbourne, two ahead of Brisbane, who visit Victory on Saturday.

The Reds’ work ethic was clear to see from the outset as they pressed City immediately, with an early attack seeing Carrusca felled on the edge of the box by Patrick Kisnorbo, and Isaias curled his free-kick over the wall and inside Thomas Sorensen’s near post.

The visitors’ pressure continued to cause turnovers from City, while the youthful legs of Mauk, Kamau and Craig Goodwin saw Adelaide stream back in numbers whenever the hosts launched one of their classic counterattacks.

Adelaide United players celebrate opening the scoring against City at AAMI Park.

As the first half wore on the match became feisty, which would eventually lead to one of the most dramatic half-time melees in A-League history.

Just before the break, Sorensen made a silly challenge on Mauk in the penalty area, collecting the midfielder in the chest with both forearms as the ball rolled out of play.

Referee Strebre Delovski pointed to the spot and Bruce Djite converted the penalty.

The spot-kick took Djite’s season tally to nine and continued the 29-year-old centre-forward’s late-season resurgence.

Djite has scored four goals in the past three games and seven in nine.

While no team has won the A-League championship in the past five seasons without one player scoring at least 10 goals, Djite’s improvement has gone along way to assuaging doubts – at least for this columnist – about Adelaide’s ability to score enough goals in the finals.